Bad-weather absences: To pay or not?

October 10, 2012
in HR / Employee Relations

The snow’s coming down pretty good and an exempt employee calls to say she can’t make it in today because her car is stuck. Can you deduct a full day’s pay from her salary for that missed day? Generally, you can.

What if your workplace closes down because of the bad weather? In that case, it’s a different story. You can’t dock her pay, but you can require her to use accrued leave time for the missed day.

The flowchart below shows the yes/no calls to make when deciding whether you must pay employees when inclement weather interrupts work.

If your workplace remains open …

When your organization remains open during inclement weather and an exempt employee misses work for his own (non-illness) reason, you can take a full-day deduction from the person’s salary. Or, the employer can require the employee to use vacation time or accrued leave to cover the time off.

One key point: You can deduct only full-day absences from exempt employees’ salaries. Docking pay for partial-day absences could destroy the person’s exemption. An exempt employee who shows up for part of the day should be paid for a full day, regardless of how long he or she is there.

If you close the workplace …

Organizations always have the option of closing their doors during inclement weather. If you do that, your organization can require exempt employees to take vacation time or use leave, but you can’t insist on leave without pay.

Snow-day flowchart: Your pay/leave options

When inclement weather closes your workplace or prevents employees from getting to work, can you dock employees’ pay or leave time? Below is a flowchart to help you answer those questions for exempt and nonexempt employees.

Note: The chart assumes the employer has a leave program. If you don’t, exempt employees who don’t report to work due to inclement weather are determined to have missed work for personal reasons and can forfeit a full day’s pay.

If an exempt employee shows up that day, he or she must be paid for the day.


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